Archive for April, 2012

OC Register finally discovers the $180 million ARTIC boondoggle. I raised the same questions nearly 3 years ago.

The Register’s Editorial Board wonders why the Orange County Transportation Authority is pushing for a new, grandoise train station and bus depot in Anaheim, at an estimated cost of $180 million.

The OCTA, the county’s multibillion-dollar transportation agency, and Anaheim are pressing ahead to break ground on the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, planned as a 66,000-square-foot train complex that County Supervisor Shawn Nelson described to us as a “glass palace,” based on an architectural rendering of the proposed structure.

OCTA is attempting to fund ARTIC in part with dollars mostly from the taxpayer-approved Measure M2 local half-cent sales-tax surcharge for transportation projects.

Mr. Nelson and Supervisor John Moorlach pointed out to us that the OCTA wants this new development located in Anaheim even though Fullerton and Irvine both have more passenger traffic at their respective stations, which are served by both Metrolink and Amtrak. Irvine, in fact, has more than double the traffic of Anaheim’s station, according to OCTA data. Irvine sees an annual ridership of 1,063,538 passengers; Fullerton, 869,076; and Anaheim, 527, 541.

Editorial Board visitors to the Irvine and Fullerton stations noted their relatively modest sizes, yet both stations seem to get the job of loading and unloading passengers done just fine. Why would Anaheim need facilities much larger when its current ridership levels do not warrant such a substantial investment of taxpayer funds? Mr. Nelson articulated a similar concern in a telephone interview. “Whether or not Anaheim needs a new station, and I believe they do not,” he said, “the ridership in Anaheim does not support a new train station, let alone a 66,000-square-foot glass palace.”

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These past two decades, Gary Richards has done some serious wanking for the BART-San Jose project. It’s tough narrowing down his most idiotic BART wankage, but this Q&A gets to the heart of the matter:

Q We could have Caltrain running from Fremont to San Jose within six months and for pennies on the dollar of what it would cost to  ring in BART. Caltrain ran trials on this route back in 1995, and I can take my bike on Caltrain. To hell with BART and their blasted tax.
Bring on Caltrain.

-Deborah Goldeen

A There was a plan in place in 1996 to run Caltrain-style trains from the BART station in Union City to downtown San Jose. But those efforts died for a couple of reasons. Residents living along the proposed route did not want this type of service, fearing for pedestrian safety and train crashes at intersections, problems that have plagued Caltrain on the Peninsula. Then, as the dot-com boom began and traffic on I-680 and I-880 became horrible, the call to bring BART to San Jose took off, resulting in nearly 71 percent of voters approving the Measure A tax plan in 2000. However, that half-cent tax is not enough to build BART and other transit improvements promised voters in that election.

In fact, the 1996 voter-approved plan was for modern European DMU’s running on conventional track. At $100 million, it was a bargain — and would have paved the way for future HSR service. Instead, VTA brainiacs decided to convert to BART gauge, increasing costs 100 fold and delaying rail service by decades.

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BART Wanker

With yesterday’s groundbreaking of the BART-San Jose project, it seems only appropriate to honor its biggest promoter. No, no, not Guardino, but Mr. Roadshow. In recognition of two decades of BART wanking, let’s highlight some of the most outlandish things he’s written about the project. Starting with yesterday’s column!

 Q: Why doesn’t BART make a right turn in Milpitas and go right up Highway 237? That’s where all the traffic is going.

A: Far too costly, and these trains need to go to downtown San Jose.

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Kids have a biological urge to explore the world. Running, playing, biking. So being cooped up in the back seat of a car for hours at a time can be the worst kind of torture. It is like a sensory-deprivation experiment.

But don’t worry: the automakers are coming up with goofy schemes to make it a bit less unbearable.

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Who knew there were so many John Forrester types in Santa Cruz?

More than 60 people turned out Monday night to air concerns about a proposal to put 10 miles of rumble strips along a scenic span of Highway 1, an idea that has sparked a furor among many local cyclists. Held at the Museum of Art and History, the sometimes testy meeting was a chance to hear details of the plan firsthand from Caltrans officials. Hoping to improve traffic safety along a picturesque but sometimes deadly stretch of asphalt, Caltrans is proposing the vibration-inducing strips to keep drivers from drifting off the road.

I suspect many cyclists still have a knee-jerk reaction to rumble strips because they used to be built so badly. These Highway-1 rumble strips would conform to modern Federal standards, leaving 5′ of shoulder space. I ride that road all the time, and if anything that would be a nice improvement.

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With the demise of California’s Redevelopment Agencies, the City of Ventura has come up with an unusual  way to fund projects:

Now in a time of shrunken resources, what’s key is to protect our quality of life and improve our standard of living. Which brings us to the recent unanimous decision by the City Council  to borrow $850,000 from a commercial bank at 4% interest and then lend it  at 8% interest for two years to the Players Casino which recently relocated to a vacant auto dealership in the Ventura Auto mall.

It’s a departure from our usual course of business, evoking some sharp reactions.



Just call it…TARP for Casinos.

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Remember that boondoggle court computer system? It’s been shitcanned by the Legislature:

The plug has been pulled on one of the biggest boondoggles in California history – the effort to build a $2 billion computer system linking the state’s 58 county courts. It never worked, and some say it was doomed from the start.

The program had run so amok, according to the state auditor, that one of the subcontracts had 102 change orders, pushing that one bill alone from $33 million to $310 million.

Faced with mounting criticism from judges and legislators, the state Judicial Council finally voted Tuesday to kill the out-of-control program. But not before spending more than $500 million trying to launch it.

The computer system was basically a Web 2.0 content management system. They spent $500 million, and have nothing to show for it.

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